Anytime I hear someone say “Be Engaging!” I roll my eyes. What does that mean? That’s about as clear as advising someone who wants to lose weight to, “Be Healthy!” Easier said than done.
This post is dedicated to those who yearn to be engaging with their audience, but don’t know what it means, why it’s important, or how to do it.
But first…is it even important?
Heck ya! Back in the Summer of 2012, YouTube tweaked their algorithm to factor in new metrics such as “minutes watched” to determine if your video gets ranked and viewed, or buried in the +70 hours of footage uploaded every minute of every day.
In short: YouTube tracks your viewers’ behaviors and habits in order to determine if your video is any good. And if it is…chances are your views will reflect that.
In Short(er): Make BETTER Videos.
I’m constantly testing and tweaking my videos looking at what works and what doesn’t. I measure my Audience Retention (a fantastic feature inside YouTube Analytics), I read every comment, and I look at metrics such as Annotation CTR, Description CTR, and more.
Below are EIGHT things you can do to dress up your next video so your audience will stay longer and (most importantly) take action with you!
And I even went so far as to demonstrate each of these eight strategies in the video below. It’s an engaging video about how to make an engaging video…like a dream about a dream…within a dream. (Vague Inception reference).
See it in Action: How to Make ENGAGING Videos That People Actually Want to Watch
How to Make a Video
1. Say Goodbye to the Talking Head
Once upon a time, someone told you that you could simply press record on your FlipCam and pump out 25 videos in 25 minutes. Some of you did that, heck I know I did! My question is, how’s that workin’ for ya?
The bar will continue to be raised with your videos. Talking into a camera lens about whatever is on the top of mind, is rarely worth watching. Each video you create is an opportunity for you to tell a story while you teach. (Edu-tainment baby!) Use visuals and evoke emotion. Break away from the one-shot-and-done video, make it more dynamic, and you’ll see the immediate difference.
I’ve always been fascinated by Walt Disney. His story is obviously an incredible one. Here’s a favorite of mine: While Walt was creating Disneyland, he traveled to other carnivals and fairs for inspiration. He quickly noticed how dirty each park was, and he became adament in making his dream theme park as clean as possible.
Here’s how he accomplished this:
He followed fair-goers around and observed their habits. He quickly realized that if the guest would not see a trash can after an average of 20 paces, they would simply drop their wrappers on the ground. For Walt, the solution was simple. And today, when you go to Disneyland, there is a trash can placed every 20 paces from each other.
How is this relevant?
I look at my videos the same way. Every second you carry on with your talking head video, you are loosing people’s attention. I place “virtual trash cans” (or pattern interrupts every few seconds in all my videos to pattern interupt my viewers and re-engage them.
2. Add B-Roll
My good friend Dean Rainey (RaineyMedia.com) says, “a picture SAVES a 1,000 words.” B-Roll footage is the secondary footage that can help bring your script to life. While talking about the marketing conference you attended last week, you could cut to footage (or even just a photograph or two) of the actual event. See! It’s visual!
“But James, what if I don’t have this B-roll footage you speak of?!”
3. Your Videos Are Alive...with the Sound of Music
Your video's intention is to illicite emotion. You don’t have to be funny and ridiculous like I attempt to be, but you do need to create an emotional experience. MUSIC is your Emotional Firehose. With the right song, you can literally command your audience to feel the way you want them to. "But James, isn't that manipulative?!" Yes. Yes it is. People are craving to feel something, don't disappoint.
4. Open and Close Loops
Opening Loops in your script is one of the most powerful strategies for keeping your audience on the edge of their seat. Whetting their appetite with a bit of information that is “coming soon” will keep your viewers thirsty for more.
I liken Opening & Closing Loops to Foreshadowing. You evoke curiosity in your viewers by eluding to some future detail in your video. And then you hit them with what they’ve been waiting for: The Pay Off.
Opening & Closing Loops is easier said than done. It takes a skilled copywriter to execute this flawlessly. My suggestion, stop thinking linearly with your content. Begin with the END (the benefit or outcome) and work backwards.
Let’s look at a weight loss example. The Before is Sam, who wants to lose 40-50 pounds. He is frustrated, has tried everything, but has seen little results. The After: Sam is in the best shape of his life, has more energy and is super healthy. Here’s how we can reverse this and create an open loop:
"There he was at his 10 year reunion getting the same reaction from every one of his old classmates- first a look of confusion and unfamiliarity, followed quickly by sheer amazement and awe.
Sam was hardly recognizable. He was in better shape at 28 than he ever was in high school. And he owed his entire weight loss success to a little $.99 cent app on his cell phone."
What's the name of that app, right?! Well, don't worry, I made it up. Just make sure than when you open a loop, (tease people about this amazing iPhone app!) that you close it: Tell them what the app is! It’s the power of payoff!
5. Include a Promise & Benefits
If you're going fishing - you need bait. But here's the deal, your bait cannot be a fake or imitation. It's got to be the real deal.
That's the difference between a promise and a benefit.
A promise is what the bait "appears" to be... the benefit is actual taste. It's what your audience gets.
It's not enough just to say what you've GOT to share... you must also share the benefits about WHY the information you're sharing is even important.
I look at every one of my YouTube videos as a “mini-transformation.” I start my video by telling people WHAT they will get out of the video (the Promise), and I encourage my viewers to take action on what they learning by painting a picture of what this mini-transformation will do for them (the Benefit).
6. The Power of Storytelling
It’s one thing to teach and share tips in your videos. But there’s no better way to put your content and message into context than with a real story. This serves multiple purposes. First, it engages your audience (let’s face it, everyone loves a good story), but if you share a personal story about YOU, it makes YOU more relatable and more real to your viewers. How can you weave your life experiences into tales and lessons for your audience?
7. Get in the Video Fast Lane
I implement an editing style called the Jump-Cut. It allows me to edit out the dead spots, silent pauses, and “um’s & ah’s.” Ultimately it speeds up my video and keeps people engaged.
Be succinct with your languaging, and keep your videos fast-paced. YouTube is a beacon for short attention spans, so get your viewers in and get them out!
8. Just Talk to Them
You’re not on stage at a 2,000 person event. You’re not broadcasting live to a million people all over the world. When you make a video, you are making it for just one person. Just one. The more you imagine your ideal customer sitting at the other end of that camera lens, and the more you speak directly to them, the more engaging your video becomes.
Use conversational language. Use the word “YOU” as much as possible. Be Real. And just talk to them! People are craving that authenticity, and the better you can get at being yourself, the more people will be drawn to your content!
This is a simple concept, but all to often we freeze up when that camera is pointed at us and that red light is blinking. Take a deep breath, relax and remember, “The Camera is your Best Friend.”
How to Get Started...
I just threw a lot on you. To think you have to do it all is crazy! Open up a Word Document and write out a basic outline for a script to your next video. Try and include 2-3 elements that I listed above. Start small, and just take action! As always, DONE trumps PERFECTION.